LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) – The International Olympic Committee has banned Russia from the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Games.

The International Olympic Committee says Russian athletes will be able to compete at Pyeongchang as neutrals. IOC also imposed a lifetime Olympic ban on Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, organizer of soccer’s 2018 World Cup.

The IOC, which also suspended the Russian Olympic committee and IOC member Alexander Zhukov, says some competitors will be invited to participate as an “Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR)” without their national flag or anthem.

Russia could refuse the offer and boycott the games.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously said it would be humiliating for Russia to compete without national symbols.

The IOC also imposed a fine of $15 million on the Russian Olympic committee.

From April through October, almost 7,000 samples were taken from 4,000 athletes in tests coordinated by the IOC, World Anti-Doping Agency and winter sports federations.

The IOC says more than 17 percent of samples were taken from Russians. Skiers and snowboarders provided 471 out of 1,240 total Russian samples.

Budgett says athletes going to South Korea “can be more confident than ever” of a clean Olympics.


(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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